Tuesday, August 3, 2010
I must be crazy, right?
Alright. I've been dying to write about my overseas travels. It's taken me a few days to recover from jet-lag and I finally feel like I have my head screwed-on straight. On second thought... naw!
It all started out with my wonderful sister and brother in law and their oldest daughter driving me to the airport. It was a 3 hour drive that only took 2. Don't ask me how that is possible. Either we are used to way more traffic, or somehow a divine intervention took place. No joke.
When we arrived at the check-in counter, we were told that we were at the wrong terminal and were advised to take the tram to get there. Good news, the tram is free. Bad news, carts to push bags aren't allowed on the tram. So 3 adults, a child and toddler, a stroller, a backpack, a huge purse, and four 50 pound bags made their journey on and off a tram via no cart. Once we arrived at the correct terminal, we decided to split up between the elevator and escalator. Needless to say, those of us on the elevator arrived at the wrong level, but we didn't realize it until we'd walked around for a while and never met up with my brother in law down the escalator. We didn't even see an escalator anyways, that should have been a big enough sign to us that we were lost! We meandered our way back into the elevator and found the correct level. The doors opened and there he stood, giving us the most peculiar look. Poor guy!
So we took my bags to be weighed and to my dismay, two of the bags were slightly overweight. This caused me much frustration due to the fact that I spent hours upon hours packing, weighing, re-packing, weighing, over and over again just to get the bags at the right weight. So I took some items out that were the least important and gave them to my family to send to me some other time or put in storage. (At least I didn't have to throw them away. And for those interested, the items I had to take out were a framed newborn baby pic of Sitora, 2 bottles of Garnier Fructis leave-in conditioner, a bag of bath salts, and something else I can't remember.)
The lady at the counter was frazzled to say the least. I'm pretty sure the airline was way under-staffed and I'm guessing the lady was a bit new to the job. I have a philosophy in life, however, that no matter how unpleasant the customer service, I will never yell, be rude, show an angry face, or treat them unkindly. I myself have worked numerous customer service jobs in my days and know what its like to be treated badly in the name of, "the customer is always right!"
So I smiled at the airline worker as often as possible, waited patiently,and told her it was alright. Numerous times she apologized and thanked me for my patience, and said I was the nicest customer ever. We had a lot of kinks to work out, which aren't important to name at the moment, and were finally finished after about 45 minutes or so. Thankfully we had arrived to the airport 4 hours early instead of 3!
So here I am, waving goodbye to my family whom I won't see in a year, trying not to cry, walking towards security with 2 bags, a stroller, and a toddler. How in the world am I going to get through this trip? I wondered.
I can't even attempt to describe with words how awkward, helpless, and odd I must have looked trying to get everything through security by myself. Anyone who has traveled internationally knows all the steps you have to take- its totally understandable, but totally stressful. I have to take off both sets of our shoes, fold up the stroller and hand it to a security worker, take out my zip-lock bags filled with 3 oz. or less liquids, take out my camera separately, take off my backpack and purse, and put everything on the conveyor belt. I pass through the security point with no problems (*relief*) then I have to wait for all our stuff to come out to us on the other end of the conveyor belt. I have to put on our shoes, open up the stroller, put Sitora in it, put my camera back in my bag, put the backpack on my back, hang my purse on the stroller, and try to find my gate.
I'm not sure anyone without children would understand this, but life is much harder when you go places that aren't children/stroller friendly. I was able to find elevators instead of escalators, but most of the time the signs that point you to where you need to go are by the escalators, not the elevators. So I would have to go look where I needed to be, then hope the elevator would get me there. I guess it helps that I'm a seasoned traveler and can usually figure stuff out.
On the plane, to my dismay, we sat by a lady who was grumpy and not child-friendly. This broke my heart and worried me sick. How was I going to survive an 8 hour plane right with my toddler next to someone like this? I prayed like crazy after she took one look at Sitora, then commented, "Is she going to sit on your lap the WHOLE time?" She then proceeded to cover her face with her hood and put her headphones on.
Thankfully Sitora watched part a movie with me (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) then fell asleep for the entire flight. I'm not kidding you. It was a miracle.
As we were landing in London 8 hours later the lady turned to me with a smile and said, "Wow, she did really good. I can't believe she slept the whole way!"
We talked for a while and come to find out, her husband had died and she was bringing his ashes to sprinkle over his home country. I was totally floored and heartbroken for her. I was so thankful her flight was peaceful since she was dealing with such pain. It just goes to show you never really know what people are going through or feeling. We can never judge unless we take the time to find out what's really going on inside.
We had a 5 hour layover in London, WOO HOO! I love love love that airport. Could spend days upon days there. We went to a cute little café, visited a toy store, and bought some accessories for my new camera. That airport is soooo baby friendly with specialty baby changing rooms... so wonderful.
We go to our gate and waited to board the plane. No one was kind to me, no one parted the way for me, actually everyone butted in front of me and tried to get ahead. Don't mind me, I'm just a mom traveling alone with my toddler thank you.
Luckily once on the plane I sat by the nicest people in the whole wide world. Well, at least some of the nicest anyways :) They were totally baby friendly and loved Sitora to death. Sitora proceeded to sleep the majority of that flight as well. *smile* The only bad part of the flight was Sitora slept so long she filled up her diaper completely, then it leaked all over my pants. All I can say is I'm grateful it wasn't #2!
Once off the plane I had to find my baggage. I found my 4 bags and couldn't find a cart. I was stuck. Seriously stuck. No airport personal helped or even cared. All of a sudden my baby-friendly neighbor from the plane magically appeared to help me. He was swearing like a sailor with anger because there were no carts for me, and no airport workers wanted to help us find one.
All of a sudden a sweet airport cleaning lady rushed up to me telling me in Azeri that I left my backpack in the bathroom. My mouth dropped open in shock as I realized how dumb of me that was, and my heart melted as she handed it to me kindly. Nothing was stolen.
So we recruited a fellow traveler guy to help us carry my bags. Here we are, 3 adults pushing a toddler in a stroller, my 4 bags, their bags, my backpack and purse. No cart. I'm sure we were a sight! Finally after we were all the way to the end of the walkway an airport worker had pity on the silly westerners and brought us a cart!
Once we got through the doors and found the pick-up spot, I looked with excitement for Danny. My nice baby-friendly neighbor kindly waited for me so I wasn't alone. I looked, wondered, and waited where in the world he could be. Was he lost? Was he late?
Then I saw him. He was poking his head out among the crowd looking for me to come out the doors. He'd missed me! He had the cutest look on his face with a huge expectant smile. Poor guy, I thought. He didn't see me.
So what do I do? I can't leave my bags there alone, I can't push the stroller through that crowd. So I jumped, over and over and over, yelling, "Daaaa-nnnyyyy!" He doesn't see me. Are. you. kidding. Everyone else in the whole universe is staring at me in this airport but him. Hey everyone, look at the silly white girl jumping up and down yelling like a maniac! Ha ha, everybody stare!
Finally he sees me, but still doesn't recognize me. I'm thinking, how does he not recognize me? Have I changed that much in 3 weeks?" He comes up to me, then finally recognizes me, and exclaims, "I didn't recognize you in that hat!" Oh, brother :) He said he knew he probably wouldn't see me anyways because I'm so short.
So there you have it my friends. Definitely way too much information, but fun to write about nonetheless. I hope you enjoyed my travels and I'm sure you will never attempt flying overseas with a toddler alone after reading my story- haha!
Don't be sorry though, I'd do it again :)